We hear over and over again that you need to make something awesome and then share it. Oh OK, that’s all I have to do? You’ll give me all the tips on how to smartly share. I just have to make something awesome. Well, I don’t know about you but I’ve seen so many awesome things in this Era of Sharing that I’m mightily impressed by people and their abilities and a bit intimidated. Pinterest and Google+ are full of the most amazing photography, art, and design work. There are incredible homes, furniture, toys…you name it already created and very awesome.
I’ve got a degree in art and have worked in graphic design and advertising for years. I love photography and have had the chance to work with some great photographers on ad campaigns. Is my stuff awesome? No. As I’ve been thinking about how to create awesome things to share, I’ve noticed that many of the things I love aren’t based on anything more than a simple thought, well executed.
Today, I saw an awesome website/show called Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. It’s a little over 10 minutes long and gives you a beautiful look into the private lives of great comedians as they simply get together. The beautiful, clean design of the site; the care taken with the film work, editing, and music all make it unique and very special. The people themselves are awesome but it’s the whole package that makes it unique.
Ok, so you’re saying that it’s easy to create something awesome when you’re starting with awesome famous people. This does help but it’s the simple concept that’s key and then the production raises it to a higher level.
In another post, I noted the work of photographer Paul Octavious. He saw trees that naturally lean due to their location or the wind they experience. We’ve all seen these trees. His awesome idea was to photograph people leaning at the same angle as the trees. He didn’t do it just once but repeated these interesting photos. People look for the next one and it sets him apart from other photographers. Over time, it becomes awesome.
There’s another photographer here in Richmond, Virginia that’s been getting attention lately. He’s also a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. Gordon Settinius sends tacky looking portraits of himself to industry professionals. We’ve all had bad pictures taken of ourselves or we’ve run across old photos and asked, “What was I thinking dressing like that!” Generally, these are the pictures we hide. Gordon has turned making bad photos of himself into an art. They show great attention to detail, expertise in propping, hair and makeup. Best of all, they show a photographer that will make the shooting experience incredibly fun. Again, another bit of awesome brought to you by a simple idea well executed. For Gordon, it’s led to press in Europe and in high-profile publications like Wired. I’m guessing it’s also led to more photography jobs.
I love these photos from artist Nina Katchadourian. She was on a long flight and decided to entertain herself by putting a toilet seat tissue cover over her head. She took a photo of it and thought it looked like 15-century Flemish paintings. Nina took advantage of this and went back to the bathroom and created many more old masters’ portraits of herself. They’re beautiful and show her wit and design ability.
So, the first important key to creating Awesome is stay aware of simple things and the power that they contain. The second thing is to repeat the good simple thing you’ve created. There’s amazing power in repetition. Here’s one example: Marlboro cigarettes was originally created as a brand for women in 1924 based on the slogan “Mild as May”. They were marketed as a ladylike cigarette. In 1950 Leo Burnett was brought in to help sagging sales. They used a cowboy image and simply keep repeating it. After a year, Marlboro went from a 1% share to fourth largest. They continued using the cowboys. As other cigarettes have going down in sales, Marlboro picked up share. They didn’t stop, they didn’t get bored with their great cowboy shots. They kept repeating the iconic image. Today, it’s the largest brand in the world.
You’ll get tired of what you’re doing first, if it’s work for a client, they’ll get tired of it second. If it’s working, keep repeating it. Others don’t live with it each and every day. They won’t tire of it like you and your client will. Awesome is out there for those willing to find it and then we simply need to have faith and stick with it.